Gene rearrangement is reported to be associated to the aggressive phenotype and poor prognosis in prostate cancer. We identified a gene fusion between a transcription repressor (BMI1) and transcriptional factor (COMMD3) in human prostate cancer. We show that COMMD3:BMI1 fusion expression is significantly increased in prostate cancer disease in an order: normal tissue < primary < metastatic tumors (Mets). Although elevated TMPRSS-ERG/ETV fusion is reported in prostate cancer, we identified a subtype of Mets exhibiting low TMPRSS:ETV and high COMMD3:BMI1. We delineated the mechanism and function of COMMD3 and COMMD3: BMI1 in prostate cancer. We show that COMMD3 level is elevated in prostate cancer cell models, PDX models (adeno-carcinoma, NECaP), and Mets. The analysis of TCGA/NIH/ GEO clinical data showed a positive correlation between increased COMMD3 expression to the disease recurrence and poor survival in prostate cancer. We show that COMMD3 drives proliferation of normal cells and promotes migration/ invasiveness of neoplastic cells. We show that COMMD3:BMI1 and COMMD3 regulate C-MYC transcription and C-MYC downstream pathway. The ChIP analysis showed that COMMD3 protein is recruited at the promoter of C-MYC gene. On the basis of these data, we investigated the relevance of COMMD3:BMI1 and COMMD3 as therapeutic targets using in vitro and xenograft mouse models. We show that siRNA-mediated targeting of COMMD3:BMI1 and COMMD3 significantly decreases (i) C-MYC expression in BRD/BET inhibitor–resistant cells, (ii) proliferation/invasion in vitro, and (iii) growth of prostate cancer cell tumors in mice. The IHC analysis of tumors confirmed the targeting of COMMD3-regulated molecular pathway under in vivo conditions. We conclude that COMMD3:BMI1 and COMMD3 are potential progression biomarkers and therapeutic targets of metastatic prostate cancer.
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© 2019 American Association for Cancer Research.